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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For women of all shapes and sizes
Despite the title, virtually every woman would benefit from reading this book since very few are immune to distorted body images or have never dieted before. In THE FAT GIRL'S GUIDE TO LIFE Wendy Shanker superbly exposes the brutal truths of the revolving-door diet industry and shrinking sizes of the fashion industry. She intelligently writes with compassion since she has...
Published on April 20, 2004 by S. Calhoun

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90 of 92 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fat is good-- uh, I mean bad-- no, good
I was very excited to see this book out, and some great points were made, but Ms. Shanker is clearly deeply conflicted. She swings wildly from saying that dieting is good, to saying that she still diets; from saying that she's always going to be fat, to saying that she reserves the right to change her mind and try yet again to lose weight; from saying that fat women are...
Published on April 25, 2004 by Erica


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90 of 92 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fat is good-- uh, I mean bad-- no, good, April 25, 2004
By 
Erica (Sharpsburg, Maryland United States) - See all my reviews
I was very excited to see this book out, and some great points were made, but Ms. Shanker is clearly deeply conflicted. She swings wildly from saying that dieting is good, to saying that she still diets; from saying that she's always going to be fat, to saying that she reserves the right to change her mind and try yet again to lose weight; from saying that fat women are beautiful to saying that they are "garbage" compared to supermodels. This woman wears control top panty hose every day. She says that fat women shouldn't expect to get hunky guys, but should instead go for unstylish, short, and/or bald men. Most of what she had to say was good, but the bad stuff she had to say was really, seriously messed up. The attitude was "I'm fat, that sucks, I'll have to bear it." It should have been "I'm fat, and that's hard, but I now embrace and love it."
As a big girl battling bulmia, the duplicity of this book actually "triggered" my disordered thinking more than any fashion magazine, which says a lot considering that fashion magazines certainly do so.
Wendy is on the right track, but she wrote this book too early in her recovery from her deep self hatred. If she'd given herself another year or two, she could have come out with a much less confused, ambiguous book, and her wit, intelligence and beauty would have produced a fantastic piece of literature. This isn't it. I hope she'll give it another shot when she can say in all honesty that she fully ascribes to the concept that Fat women are as beautiful as supermodels in a different way, Fat women are sexy, Fat women deserve good AND hunky lovers, Fat women can be fit, Fat women aren't slovenly, and they don't have to confine the bounty of their bodies with foundation undergarments.
Try again Wendy. I'm rooting for you.
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66 of 70 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Clever, witty... but very disappointing, September 12, 2005
For a while now, I have been searching for a book that takes on body image and the anti-fat culture in a cool, clever and inspirational way. I thought I had finally found such a thing in Wendy Shanker's Fat Girl's Guide to life - it's funny, sassy, intelligent - the works. However, there are several reasons why I was very disappointed with it and will never recommend it to anyone. First of all, I have a big problem with her statement in the book that all fat people are compulsive overeaters. There is not a single piece of evidence in support of this notion (despite considerable digging by anti-fat scientists), but it is presented here as an obvious truth. It is simply a prejudiced assumption and I was sad to read it in a book that is meant to empower fat girls. Secondly, it seems to me that Shanker has not at all resolved her personal issues with food and weight. It is thought- provoking and enlightening to follow and identify with her continuing struggles, but she doesn't leave the reader with much hope that these issues really can be worked out (they can, by the way). Furthermore, she seems to confuse food issues with weight issues a lot and vice versa. Eating a healthy diet does not mean that one is necessarily on the way to weight loss. Nor does ridding oneself of bad habits, like eating too much sugar, have to be fueled by a desire to lose weight. Improving health does not automatically imply weight loss. There needs to be a clear distinction between the two and I would have liked to see an understanding of this in the book. Finally, Shanker asserts on more than one occasion - in bold print, no less - that NO ONE wants to be fat. Now, while this may or may not be true (I very much doubt that it has ever been researched...), it is hardly the kind of statement you want to encounter in a book meant to inspire self-esteem and self-love in fat women. The continuing struggle for fat acceptance is an effort to change the way society (read: all of us) see fat people. In order to do that, fat people must take the same steps that every stigmatized group has ever taken before them: Get out there, smile and say with enormous pride: "We're fat (or gay or black or women or whatever), we're here, get used to it!!! Fat people have to convince themselves and everyone around them that they're not abnormal, they're not defected or morally weak - they're perfectly fine the way they are. That means they have to project the image of being satisfied with themselves - in the bodies they are in. Yes, it has to be that revolutionary - because if they act like they'd really rather not be fat, how can they expect others to see fatness as anything but a liability? If we continue to regard fatness as a defect and abnormality, society will always look down on fat people - if not out of disgust, then out of pity.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For women of all shapes and sizes, April 20, 2004
By 
Despite the title, virtually every woman would benefit from reading this book since very few are immune to distorted body images or have never dieted before. In THE FAT GIRL'S GUIDE TO LIFE Wendy Shanker superbly exposes the brutal truths of the revolving-door diet industry and shrinking sizes of the fashion industry. She intelligently writes with compassion since she has suffered most of her adult life from being overweight and spent a substantial amount of money on diet and exercise in an effort to slim to society's ideal size. Shanker has since made peace with her body and is adamant to let other women know that they're not alone in their battle for the perfect body. She dispenses practical diet and exercise advice that every woman can benefit.
While reading I was continually surprised at how Shanker manages to curtail popular ideologies including avoiding the ineffective diet regimes of Weight Watchers along with the commonplace practice of counting calories. Most surprising though was her unsatisfactory experiences of her month-long stay at the highly esteemed Duke Diet & Fitness Center. I have heard much about Duke's reputation but Shanker paints a very different picture of Duke being slow to adopt to new exercise programs and having futile support systems. Her tidbit of frequently seeing a pizza delivery van outside the center's hotel made me chuckle.
Throughout her book Shanker sidesteps the stereotype of an overweight person: she's healthy, beautiful, socially active, has a successful career, and is intelligent. She is also feisty and her personality shines through in her book. THE FAT GIRL'S GUIDE TO LIFE is at the same time serious and insightful, funny and original. Highly recommended.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yes, you CAN be Fat and Fit AND HEALTHY, June 7, 2005
By 
Shortchick "Dorean Squire" (San Diego, California United States) - See all my reviews
First of all, to the two readers who rated this at one star: One obviously did not read the book, or did so with the "Indignant Thin" logic that Wendy touches on in the book. Have you never heard of sarcasm? Or did you not read the part where Wendy cited a study where Fat people were actually at less risk of cancer death than thin people?

And to the other person: Wendy did NOT advocate smoking cigarettes to lose weight. She pointed out that it is what many people (including herself) have done in an attempt to lose weight. And she did not say your husband does not exist. She merely stated that many men are not strong enough to overcome the pressure to date and marry the women who are thin, and she has yet to find her man who is strong enough.

I really, really, REALLY liked this book. I have been on Atkins, I have tried South Beach, I grew up with the fruit-and-vegetable-Nazi mom. I was "Tubby Troll" in high school. I feel Wendy's pain, and indignation, that the Fat people of the world are being forced into the Thin mold that society expects. I bellydance for two hours a day every single day. My doctor has never complained about my blood panels or my fitness tests. Just the fact that I'm an 18. Like Wendy points out, I'm fit and fat. This is not a contradiction. I encourage everyone to read this book, and practice fat-tolerance. BTW, Wendy, come to San Diego. I get hit on every day in the mall while I'm walking to my job at Torrid.
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70 of 85 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truthfully Funny, Important, Good for All, Thin or Fat, June 24, 2004
By 
S. Morales (Levittown, NY United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I Sergio, the obsessed metal head am not only in love with heavy metal music, but also REAL beautiful women, and by that I mean Large beautiful women. I myself am not an overweight person, and if you think I'm biased, it's probably just due to the fact that I find large women to be gorgeous.
Wendy Shanker's first book is basically her opinions on fat women and how they're wrongfully percieved in America (and parts of the world) and the story of her full figured body's coming to be. It goes to point out and destroy the stupid stereoptypes usually depicted about big women in media and society; such as laziness, depression, poor health, and only good for a laugh. It also goes to point out lots of FALSE conclusions, such that thinness equates to health, and that 61% of all Americans are overwieght; where the term "overwieght" is so loose in fact that super big celebrities such as George Clooney, yes, George Clooney are considered "overweight." Also that the survey was taken by only an amount of 1,446 people in 1999 and that's where we get the 61% from, forgetting that the U.S. contains a population of over 200 million.
Wendy goes on to talk about other issues, such as clothing availability and accommadations for big people. Most importantly, that to be fat means poor health, gimme a break! If anything, being fat means being healthy, as long as the person doesnt wieght 300-400 lbs! She also tells of her time in a Duke wieght center where she spent literally thousands of dollars, underwent rigerous excersize conditions and starvation, only to come out with a net wieght loss of only 2 lbs. Also how big companies like Wieght Watchers and Atkins are in it for the business, as a whole w/ the rest of corporate America, are profiting off the self esteem of the American public. Wendy shows women how to be strong, and gives great ideas on how to stay healthy even while being fat; not to mention giving men a whole new perspective on big beautiful women. Basically, your target goal in excersize should be to KEEP healthy, yes KEEP; and your target should NOT be to get thin as so many women sadly believe, and as so many stupid ignorant (white) men sadly exploit.
The book is also very funny. Wendy is a feminist, but a fair feminist, not the "we should spell women w/ a Y instead of E" type. She pokes fun at herself and at times though she may seem to poke fun or speak badly of fat people, it's at face value she's doing it, but if you know how to read between lines (as she also gives a brief lesson on) you'll notice it's all tongue-in-cheek. She constantly refers to fat women as "fat chicks," further emphasizing the down to earth qualities w/in her. Any man who reads this will undoubtably fall in love with Wendy, as you truly feel like you get to know her and her stuggles, and I myself am surprised to learn that she is still single (and no, it's not b/c she's fat you moron).
To all those boneheaded ignorants out there (men in particular) who believe that beauty only comes in one size (you know who you are you wussie), obviously this book is your wake up call (if you'll actually be intelligent enough to read it, which you probably won't; so continue to drink your beer and be macho in front of your douche friends). Everywhere you look you see it (not to get off on a rant), but from reality TV where only pretty thin white people and the 1 token musclehead black guy are depicted, to shows like the Man Show (skeletons on trampolines!), to even tv commercials, never is a big REAL woman in sight. What are people so afraid of? Reality I guess. Do yourself a favor, making fun of fat women and men or simply being ignorant to their stories and stuggles is just the equivelant of being a racist in my opinion; by that I mean they are people different than you and you're percieving them unjustifyingly. This is sort of explained through something that Wendy calls "Thin Logic."
Aside from this being an incredible read (I literally could not put it down) as well as an important read, there were a couple of Wendy's opinions I didn't agree w/, such that a doctor should not directly blame a patient for their illness. Example: A person w/ cancer should be be blamed even though they're smoked all their lives. I can understand a doctor not being judgemental, but i sure am gonna be! Though being fat isn't in the same boat, as it isn't just eating habits that equate to it, other things such as genetics also play a part, as well as the fact that God created ALL shapes and sizes!
Anyways, the point is, buy this and read it. If you're fat, this book will undoubtably raise your self esteem, if you're thin, it'll raise your awareness. And Wendy if you're reading this, I just want to say Thank You, I wish the world had more people like you.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very Funny, could be more size positive, June 10, 2004
By A Customer
This book is outrageously funny and has great insights on the perils of being fat. Wendy's adventures at Duke, at Weight Watchers (although I?ve never been held up by robbers at a WW meeting), on meds are carbon copies of other dieters. I'm glad she threw off the shackles of dieting obsession. However, Wendy seems to flip-flop a bit on the issue of size acceptance. She sometimes seems to convey the message "I'm okay with being fat but I hope the magic pill comes along." Real size acceptance and being size positive means fighting for your right to exist no matter what size you are.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars doesn't promise any cures for being fat, December 10, 2004
Wendy Shanker has written for national women's magazines, she's hosted fashion shows, she's traveled far and wide to gather the data she's compiled for the "The Fat Girl's Guide to Life." Ok, maybe not "far and wide" but she has first hand experience. She's 32 years old and she has been fat most of her life. Now she's putting that experience to good use.

Being a fat girl myself, I was curious what Shanker had to say. Shanker's style is blunt and to the point. She says it like it is (or at least as she sees it) with a little bit of sarcastic sometimes comedic twist. She isn't degrading like most fat humourists. She is respectful but truthful. Her raw humour made it easy to read. But this book definitely isn't all about humour. It's about being fat in a media infested world.

Shanker's book is not what I'd call a step by step guide but a "get real" guide. It's time to admit you're "Fat" and then get on with it...Life. Stop dwelling on how you don't have Cameron Diaz's thighs and go have some fun.

In the introduction, Shanker doesn't promise any cures for being fat (there are enough of those claiming that already) or for improving your self-esteem. She maintains that "I'm not one hundred percent self-satisfied but I'm trying; I'm closer." After years of self torture she can say "I know there's nothing wrong with me mentally and physically."

Shanker doesn't think we should be afraid to use the word "Fat" to describe ourselves (for any non-fat person out there: we can call ourselves fat but no one else can). "You're here, you're fat, get use to that!" she says. She also believes in standing up for ourselves when society is rude. Being an advocate for ourselves is also a necessity. She suggests, if a medical professional says something unprofessional then let them know even if you have to write a letter so they don't do it to the next fat person.

She touches on self loathing, binging, the diet industry and the media industry without beating the topics to death. Even Oprah isn't safe from her prying eyes and stinging wit. Everything is fair game for conversation even her lack of bowel movements. She is bold, fearlessly attacking and industry of "body image".

Weight loss programs? Well she can't say enough about them. I like how she compared them to every other product we buy. It is the only product we buy in which we blame ourselves if it doesn't work. She reviews how weight loss companies and fast food chains have invaded our lives, lifestyles and bank accounts. She attacks Weight Watchers head on and how they are designed to keep us coming back. She's the Michael Moore of the fat world.

Instead of wasting money on dieting schemes that don't work for the average person she recommends the common sense approach: Stop dieting, eat healthy and exercise. Eat what you want as long as you eat healthy and exercise MOST of the time. She offers no diet plans or exercise routines. "We are responsible for our own decisions about our bodies," she says.

Obviously, Shanker is just one more opinion in the sea but at least hers floats on an inner tube of common sense. I love this woman! I love the book! I could relate to most of what she said and felt such a relief in reading it. I am no longer alone. I found myself reading sections over again (I won't say which ones because that's personal to my own melodrama and you'll probably have your own favourites). Numerous times I felt she was looking into my head. Yikes! I don't even want to be there half the time.

This book isn't just for fat people. It's for the people who love fat people, date fat people, are friends with fat people and for people who just don't understand fat people (a.k.a. the "thin" people).

Shanker is here to let the world know that fat people "aren't all jolly, we aren't asexual, we aren't lazy, and we aren't all depressos zoning out in front of the TV sets with ice cream melting down our chins." She wants us all to be able to respect ourselves, our bodies and be able to handle the rude people who aren't comfortable enough in their own lives that they have to try to make someone else unhappy.

Through her personal experience and empowering dialogue I think she's setting an example. I'm looking forward to her next book. Perhaps "The Fat Girl's Guide to Life: Part II."
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A mixture of the good and the bad, July 31, 2004
By 
Gail Martin (Houston, TX United States) - See all my reviews
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I really wanted to like this book, and almost succeeded. Wendy Shanker shows some spark and attitude in her writing that make "Fat Girl's Guide to Life" relatively entertaining, at least most of the time. But some of her information, which she presents as fact, is very skewed.

My primary disagreement with Shanker is that she claims that compulsive eating is a problem for almost every fat person. So very very wrong! Some fat people are compulsive eaters, some eat moderately. Some thin people eat like horses and some thin people pick at their dinner. Read Laura Fraser's "Losing It" to see the research that backs up these statements. Some of us are fat, some of us are thin, and for almost all of us our size is not a lifestyle choice. Shanker does her readers a disservice by overgeneralizing on this issue.

Overall "The Fat Girl's Guide to Life" is a decent book to introduce someone to size acceptance. It's a fairly good combination of information, opinion, light and dark tones. But I would say that as soon as you've read it you should immediately buy Fraser's "Losing It" to get some scientific information on dieting and body size, and Marilyn Wann's "Fat! So?" to get a more optimistic take on size acceptance and living a full life in a full body.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Feisty, Fun and Honest., May 3, 2004
By 
Suzanne (Culver City, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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Wendy Shanker has a winner with "The Fat Girl's Guide To Life!" Clever, forthcoming and inspiring, it chronicles her struggles with weight, her self-image, and how she has come to terms with both, even if (as she admits) it's a shaky truce sometimes.
But this is not just a personal diet memoir. There's a lot of great information about living your best life in the body you've got, that FITness is more important than FATness, that there are fashion options out there to make the most of what you're got, and that attitude is everything, baby!
For seasoned fat acceptance activists, this book may seem like "size acceptance lite." But for those women who might be contemplating another round of Weight Watchers or Atkins, this book is a fun and accessible intoduction to the ideas of size acceptance. Read it and smile, read it and join the ranks of Fat Girls everywhere!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read!, April 11, 2004
I'm probably not in the category "Fat Girl" as defined by Shanker, but I have felt like one all my life thanks to our thinness-obsessed culture, where size 0 and 2 actresses are given a million dollars a week to make us feel lousy about the way we're made. Every sentence Shaker writes resonates with meaning and I found myself nodding with approval and in agreement with her. She offers great advice on how to look and feel your best the WAY YOU ARE--whether or not the way you are is reflected by the 1% of our population who actually resembles a supermodel.
Buy it, own it, read it--whenever you start to feel the panic that society has implanted in you that says "I'm not thin enough".
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The Fat Girl's Guide to Life
The Fat Girl's Guide to Life by Wendy Shanker (Paperback - March 2, 2005)
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